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As we enter the busy, holiday season, we wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on the importance of gratitude. A practice of gratitude can bring so much to our lives! Recent research suggests that rituals of thankfulness may even have lasting, positive health outcomes.

UC Davis psychologist, Robert Emmons has studied gratitude extensively, and remarks in a recent study, “Research has shown that gratitude enhances nearly all spheres of functioning. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and facilitate more efficient sleep.” We know it is not a magic cure-all, but an attitude of gratitude has its merits, so how can we practice it more frequently? 

Here are a few ideas to establish a practice of gratitude: 

1.) Write a thank you note. When was the last time you wrote a handwritten card to a loved-one or acquaintance? Hand deliver it to a coworker or snail mail it to provide a joyful mailbox surprise. 

2.) Journal daily. Make a goal to record one thing that you feel grateful for per day. Jot it down in a beautiful notebook or keep it easy and type it in a notes app on your mobile device. Set yourself up for success, it does not need to be complicated. 

3.) Find a gratitude buddy! Choose a friend to text your thankfulness to and ask them to do the same with you. You do not necessarily have to share your gratitude for them. Although that will likely not go unappreciated! 

4.) Create a gratitude jar. Set a goal to place a note of gratitude in your jar for however many days you want. Collect your notes for days, months or years! In the end, you will have a collection of your thankfulness. 

It may take some time to build a habit of expressing your gratitude: on a note or a card or a text. Be patient with yourself. Change takes time, and gratitude will always be there. 

If you would like to read up on practices of gratitude, Sedera board member Dr. Felicity Dale recommends Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers, noting that it tells the simple story of one man learning to “give thanks in all circumstances.” 

We also recommend neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sack’s book Gratitude which features stories, research and Sack’s personal reflections on gratitude. 

Want to practice expressing your thanks? Tell us what you are grateful for. We would love to know.